And this is why I need to write these things in a more timely fashion – the memories fade.
Heading out from the campsite Charles and I pass through oak and palm hammocks, including the spectacular Cathedral of Palms South. Eventually the trail begins to follow a fence line – cattle on one side and the trail (and a steep drop into a ditch) on the other. The fence line brings us to the boundary of Kissimmee Prairie State Park. The trail follows sand/dirt roads through the park across prairie and the occasional oak hammock.
We pass by a hammock covered in vultures – dozens of black and turkey vultures chilling out. They eventually all took off as we passed, kettling high up into the sky. Not too long after a group of boar crossed ahead of us – two sows and a pile of piglets.
The prairie was beautiful and the trail was easy, but the last couple miles heading into camp were extremely painful. I wanted to stop to rest my feet but didn’t know if I’d be able to start up again so I trudged on. On the plus side the campsite had a working pump and the trees shielded us from the wind.
Not long after dark another hiker showed up – Poet was thru-hiking with wife Hippie Chick running support in their RV with kids and dog in tow. I’d bumped into Poet just outside Moore Haven, and had met both him and Hippie Chick a couple years ago in Maine at their hostel when I was finishing up the AT. They had a site at the Kissimmee Prairie campground booked for a few days and invited us to set up our tents in the site. We’d been planning on two nights at the campground so that worked out perfectly.
The next morning we made our way into the campground, set up camp, and found the showers and laundry. We hung out at the campsite, a very cold breeze blowing in across the prairie. That night was a lunar eclipse that hit its pinnacle around midnight – I’d gone to bed long before but thanks to a weak bladder was up in time to see it. It was COLD – temperature dropped to the mid-30s and my 40° quilt was not nearly sufficient. Poet offered up a spare sleeping bag which was immensely helpful.
Poet took off slackpacking the next morning and Charles and I took the day off. A handful of thru-hikers passed by that morning: Mayor, Schweppes, and Katana (my third time having Mayor and Katana pass me); Pearl and Hawkeye out on a LASH; Sunshine; and Songbird.
Spent the day reading, charging up all the devices and battery packs, and taking pictures. Turkey, deer, and boar wandered through the campground. Crows squawked everywhere. And raccoons raided the campsite that next (also very cold) night.